Richard Day: It's A Hard Rain Gonna Fall
Doc Cleveland: Horse Race? Or Hindenburg?
During his keynote speech at the Energy Innovation Summit, Dr Steven Chu cited an ARPA-E grant recipient, Envia Systems, which has announced, "a more energy-dense lithium ion battery that it says will be cheaper than today's batteries and allow for an electric car with a 300-mile range."
The five-year-old company today is expected to disclose technical details of its batteries which executives say could lead to cutting EV battery pack prices in half in three or four years. Envia Systems' batteries are being evaluated by a number of automakers, including its largest investor General Motors, according to CEO Atul Kapadia. ...
Envia said its batteries were tested at 400 watt-hours per kilogram at a projected cost of $125 per kilowatt-hour, which is more energy dense than most batteries and less than half of what automakers are paying today, according to the company. Its tests have also shown that its batteries perform well after 400 cycles, Kapadia said.
If the technology pans out as its performance tests indicate, it's conceivable that electric vehicles will match the cost of gasoline cars in the near future, Kapadia and Kumar said. With more energy-dense batteries, automakers can put few batteries in the car, lightening the load and reducing costs of other electric components. It takes about four years to evaluate batteries and design them into EV battery packs.
Now that sounded pie-in-the-sky to me, so I checked Green Car Congress for a more technical take. Not only did they have the story, Envia's CEO Atul Kapadia jumped in to the comment section to field some tough questions from the GCC crowd:
... What I would like Envia to evolve is into a "fabless Intel" model. If battery materials and design are key enables for batteries that are key enablers for EVs, it is somewhat similar to the Intel - IBM value chain in the early 80's. On the other hand, I do not want to go down many of our cleantech brethren that raised capital from private and government sources and never proved the model out. So a "fabless Intel" type model would make sense. My main goal in what you refer to the "cartoon" website was to get to the end-user to know that this car is inexpensive and has extended range because it has Envia enabled technology. However, I think the cartoon concept may not have been the best way for us to represent a battery company, considering the debris left behind in the past two decades. As soon as we have some bandwidth, we will come up with a new website.
In this age of connected urban cars, it's interesting that Kapadia doesn't invoke Apple. "Fabless Intel" reminds me of the wild days of PC clones, and those jokes comparing operating systems to automobiles:
4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
Green Car Congress also discussed hybrid prices and adoption rates:
Future improvements in P2 hybrid systems should drop high-volume direct manufacturing costs to about $1,200 by 2020—very close to the approximately $1,000 cost threshold required for mainstream customer acceptance, according to John German, Senior Fellow and the US Lead for the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).
GCC quotes German as saying:
I don’t think there is going to be much of a sales increase up to about 2020 or so. JD Power had 7.7% in 2018, I’m actually below that in 2018. The reason is it’s going to take time to bring out the new technology. It will take more time to build up sales so that you can actually design the vehicles around the hybrid system and that’s where you get a lot of cost reduction.
In the 2020 timeframe, I think you’ll see this all come together. [Hybrids] will go mainstream. By 2030, I’m saying 70% of the market. This is why I’m bullish about conventional hybrids; its not so much what’s happening now. Costs are too high, but they are going to come down.